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Anonymous Takes Over US Sentencing Commission Website

Chima Simone |
January 26, 2013 | 9:46 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

The hacker-activist group Anonymous hijacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz. The website of the commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch, was replaced with a message warning that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago "a line was crossed." Photo Credit, Stian Eikeland.
The hacker-activist group Anonymous hijacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz. The website of the commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch, was replaced with a message warning that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago "a line was crossed." Photo Credit, Stian Eikeland.
Hacktivist group Anonymous claims it hijacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, an information advocate and internet activisit who committed suicide.

Early Saturday, the site which typcially features sentencing guidelines for federal crimes, instead showed an almost 10-minute long YouTube video decrying the current state of the American justice system and what the activists say are threats to the free flow of information. But the hacker collective's primary impetus for the take over was the death of Aaron Swartz.

"Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed. Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win — a twisted and distorted perversion of justice — a game where the only winning move was not to play."

The game Anonymous has chosen to play involves releasing incriminating leaks, "warheads", containing sensitive information about the Justice Department to select news outlets. 

"The contents are various and we won't ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public. At a regular interval commencing today, we will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents of the file. Any media outlets wishing to be eligible for this program must include within their reporting a means of secure communications."

Family and friends say Swartz, Reddit co-founder and RSS creator, killed himself after federal prosecutors chose to make an example out of him.

He faced up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines for federal computer fraud charges. His crime was allegedly bypassing the network security of MIT and online academic journal archive JSTOR to illegally download millions of academic articles he planned on releasing for free online. 

CNN reports the FBI is handling the attack on www.ussc.gov as a criminal investigation.

Follow Executive Producer Chima Simone on Twitter.



 

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